D&E event 2012 – 24th of May – Evoluon – NL

Eurocircuits has been an active participant and supporter of the D&E event organized by the FHI since 2003.

2012 will be no exception; we will be there. We will give a presentation “Visual feedback on your PCB design from data entry to finished PCB”. The presentation will take place at 11H15 on Thursday 24 May. You can find an overview of the complete presentation program here.

Registering for the event is free and can be done here.

Following the D&E event, Eurocircuits will give a webinar on PCB data preparation, what happens to your data when it arrives at Eurocircuits. We will take you step by step through our internal data preparation flow. The webinar will focus on the influence of design on the quality and manufacturability of the PCB. It will include tips on how you can design for a more robust and lower cost finished PCB.

This webinar will take place on 20 June at 11H00. Subscribe through this link.

We would like to welcome you on 24 May in the Evoluon and on 20 June from behind your PC.

See you there.

The Eurocircuits team

Eyes on the future, feet on the ground – Technology seminar by ACB

On April 25, ACB organized their technology seminar….Eyes on the future, feet on the ground…

ACB, known in Europe as leading manufacturer of High Technology & Quick Turnaround Printed Circuit Boards, organized its first technology seminar.

The brand new CEO, Gilles Rigon, opened he seminar with explaining all about the ACB philosophy. “S” for simple and easy solutions where possible, “S” for souple and flexible processes and “S” for Solid and reliable processes and how they balance their “eyes on the future” with their “feet on the ground” approach. In fact, the importance of this balance would return in many lectures coming.


Arnaud Grivon, PCB/PCBA Technology expert from Thales showed us the possibilities and limits from stacked filled microvias and how design has a major impact on their reliability. This technology is required to make routing possible for fine pitch BGA or array components (pitch < 0.5 mm) using microvia-in-pad and filled stacked vias. The Cu filling is not only creating a smooth surface for assembly but can increase the reliability of the microvia too, as long as it is properly filled. Tests have proven that the aspect ratio is max 0.8. This means that microvias can only be filled completely in a thin insulation-layer. This sounds logic but this technology is highly sensitive and requires strict process control.

This brings us to the following presentation. Wim Perdu, CTO at ACB, spoke about the sense and nonsense of IPC requirements in design, process and inspection. For high density boards and fine pitch design, the feasibility of some requirements in IPC class 3 or class 3A is doubtful and not always relevant for better or more reliable quality, and the cost related with the required inspections is hallucinatory. He expressed what many of us think but don’t dare to say because we don’t want to awake sleeping dogs. Instead of attacking IPC standards, we try to set up workable methods to control our processes. We set up mechanisms to avoid failures instead of detecting them in a final product. And, indeed it is more important to know the capabilities of your supplier then to “overspecify” the products, since many aspects are hardly possible to inspect in a finished product and like Wim said: The reality is simple: if it is offered for free, it is not done.

The next presentation came from Jan Vanfleteren who is developing for IMEC- UGent/CMST flexible and stretchable circuits. There is an increasing demand for portable, wearable and implantable electronics and sensor systems. To achieve the needs for comfort, place and weight saving CMST developed a technology to integrate flexible ultra thin chip packages in stretchable circuits which are completely embedded in order to make them washable and implantable. This technology tries to make use of the existing standard PCB processes and uses temporary layers for support during processing. These support layers are removed later on and the result is complete embedding in elastic materials. Although this is an example of the “eyes on the future” aspect, we saw more than 1 realization of stretchable, dynamically deformable or integration in textile. The challenge now is to have these products developed and produced on an industrial scale.

Back to the essence now: Wim Huwel, NPI Engineer at ACB, convinced the attendees about the importance of the DFM (design for manufacturing). It implies an early cooperation between designer and PCB manufacturer. It combines tools and techniques to achieve better quality in a shorter development time and a more mature product at a lower cost. Early involvement makes it possible to guide designers to use the correct industrial design rules and chose the best material for their application. It also avoids creating the need of extra ordinary process capabilities. Use the design rules and keep it as simple as possible. He showed us many examples of how almost impossible build-ups were altered to the ACB “standard constructions”
= > For this reason, we, at Eurocircuits send out all these (sometimes annoying) remarks and exceptions. We share the same opinion: use the design guide lines, check the classification table and keep it simple!

Geert Willems, driving force behind the EDM-projects, at his turn continued with an exposé about via reliability. Too difficult to follow for most of us but he showed the need of physical models to understand the parameters that influence the reliability of vias such as via diameter, PCB thickness, the CTEz of the material and the Cu deposit with their degree of importance. He announced that all conclusions will be included in the new DfM Guideline coming soon.
=> As EDM-partner of the early hour Eurocircuits sat down with Geert on this subject some years ago. Based upon his reliability model, we defined the basic material parameters for the base material used in our pooling services. This lead to a better quality of lead free boards and zero material defects during the last 3 years.

Wim Christiaens, NPI Engineer at ACB, returned to the subject of stacked and filled micro-vias and the importance of well filling. He guided us through the challenges of the projects they set up to achieve this properly filled micro-via. He used different BGA configurations to explain the use and the importance of the µBGA design rule table and the relation with the PCB class. If you ever have the need for this technology, you should consider his involvement at an early stage. His explanation of this rather difficult subject was very clear!

The row of presentations was closed with a lecture from Johan De Baets, from IMEC-CMST about Embedded components in printed circuit boards. Traditional printed circuit boards have components on top and/or bottom. Embedded technology started around 1990 with printed resistors and capacitors to arrive at the current stage where silicon and chip become embedded in the PCB. During the last 15 years several methods were developed to embed active components too. Johan introduced the HERMES project: High density integration by Embedded chips for Reduced size and Electronic Systems. To be able to combine and optimize all the available existing technology from design, PCB, PBA and silicon dies many industrial players are working together in this project. It requires a complete new business model to make this project possible.

The event was held in the Verbeke foundations residence and proved to be a perfect location for contemporary art and technology crossover.

National Electronics Week a success

National Electronics Week 2012 took place at the NEC in Birmingham on 18 – 19 April. OK, it’s not really a week, but the organisers took over the name five or six years ago from a show almost lost in the mists of time.

Demand for prototype and small batch PCBs is strong. A lot of people came onto the stand asking specifically how we could offer them a better prototype and small batch service. We explained our pooling services and demonstrated how to get prices off the website. The response to the website and to the prices was very positive and we received our first order from a new customer two days after the end of the show.

We met a number of customers as well, always a pleasure. Several had come specially to see the beta version of the new PCB Visualizer software which had its first public viewing at the show. The new software will allow you to see your board layers as soon as the job is uploaded, so that you can check right away that everything looks OK. PCB Visualizer will be rolled out over the next few weeks and more functionality will be added during the rest of the year to make handling data issues clearer and quicker.

On a lighter note our stand was a few metres from the “Bobs Box AKA the Cyclone Game Cube” as-seen-on-TV challenge. Competitors stand in a transparent box and try to catch as many red balls as they can out of a shower of balls of many colours being blasted up from the floor. Google it for YouTube videos. This proved a big crowd-puller, especially when one or two short-skirted stand hostesses were trying. No pictures of them, I’m afraid, but you can see Uwe Doerr in action.